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Staples Uses Facebook to Help School Kids

BackpackHow about a nice ‘feel good’ story to take you into the weekend? The news in the Internet marketing industry has been focused on negative numbers, downturns and dire forecasts for quite a while now. Personally, I get a little worn out by it. It’s good to be reminded, however, of just how potentially life altering (a little hyperbole never hurt anyone) the use of social media can be. Staples, one of the best known brands for those with school age children, is using its name via Facebook to do some good for kids who may not have the means to even have decent school supplies.

ClickZ reports on the office supply giant’s efforts to help kids help kids. Of course there is a tremendous display of altruism here but let’s also remember the good business sense that a campaign such as this makes. This one smells of a win / win which is cool.

The office and school supplies retailer tapped New York agency Mr Youth to create a Do Something 101 Facebook page and an “Adopt a Pack ” Facebook application where participants can tag friends, virtually “fill” a backpack with school supplies, and then go to a Staples store t “o buy the supplies they selected and have them donated to other students who are living in poverty.

How is this good business? Let us count some of the ways:

  1. Helping kids in poverty is a good thing all by itself
  2. Helping kids in poverty is great PR for your brand
  3. Helping kids to help kids in poverty is good for society
  4. Helping kids who do have money to know your brand for something other than office supplies is just plain smart

Staples did something similar last year through DoSomething.org (who is still involved) but changed things up a bit this year to focus on the social networking habit of kids and, in many cases, their parents.

Mr Youth Managing Partner Doug Akin said the campaign will be publicized through outreach to youth bloggers and some online media. He declined to say how much the campaign will cost and he said it’s too early to provide metrics about its early success. “There’s definitely been strong adoption of it and users are tagging many friends and creating multiple images,” Akin said.

Of course, the hope is that there is a high participation rate and lots of kids learn good lessons and get the supplies they need to succeed in tough situations. While this type of activity to help young people is not unique to Staples by any means it certainly can give the company a chance to cut through the clutter of a noisy marketplace and tell a story that might influence someone come to them instead of their competition. Good cause, good business and I wish them good luck.

A side note: Have a great weekend and Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Your role in helping to shape the future with kids who would take part in something like this could have impact far beyond your own little world. Make sure you hug your kids this weekend. They need you.